Operation Valentine- Occupation of the Faroe Isles
Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines Location: Faroe Islands Period/ Conflict: World War II Year: 1940 Date/s: 13th April 1940
The British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II, also known as Operation Valentine, was implemented immediately following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway. It was a small component of the roles of Nordic countries in World War II.
In April 1940, the United Kingdom occupied the strategically important Faroe Islands to forestall a German invasion. British troops left shortly after the end of the war. At the time of the occupation, the Faroe Islands had the status of an amt (county) of Denmark. Following the invasion and occupation of Denmark on 9 April 1940, British forces launched Operation Valentine to occupy the Faroe Islands.
On 11 April, Winston Churchill — then First Lord of the Admiralty — announced to the House of Commons that the Faroe Islands would be occupied: We are also at this moment occupying the Faroe Islands, which belong to Denmark and which are a strategic point of high importance, and whose people showed every disposition to receive us with warm regard. We shall shield the Faroe Islands from all the severities of war and establish ourselves there conveniently by sea and air until the moment comes when they will be handed back to Denmark liberated from the foul thraldom into which they have been plunged by German aggression.
An announcement was broadcast on BBC radio. An aircraft of the Royal Air Force (RAF) was seen over the Faroese capital Tórshavn on the same day.
On 12 April, two destroyers of the Royal Navy arrived in Tórshavn harbour. Following a meeting with Carl Aage Hilbert (the Danish Prefect of the Islands) and Kristian Djurhuus (President of the Løgting, the Faroese Parliament), an emergency meeting of the Løgting was convened the same afternoon. Pro-independence members tried to declare the independence of the Faroe Islands from the Kingdom of Denmark but were outvoted. An official announcement was later made announcing the occupation and ordering a nighttime blackout in Tórshavn and neighbouring Argir, the censorship of post and telegraphy and the prohibition of the use of motor vehicles during the night without a permit.
On 13 April, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Suffolk arrived at Tórshavn. Colonel T. B. W. Sandall (the British military commander) and Frederick Mason (the new British Consul to the Faroe Islands) then met with the Danish Prefect. The Prefect responded with what Sandall took to be a formal protest, although Hilbert maintained that owing to the occupation of Denmark he was unable formally to represent the Danish government. He duly accepted the British terms on the basis that the UK would not seek to interfere with the internal affairs of the islands. A formal protest was made by the Løgting, albeit expressing the wish for friendly relations.
250 Royal Marines were disembarked, later to be replaced by other British troops. Cordial relations were maintained between the British forces and the Faroese authorities. In May, the Royal Marines were replaced by soldiers of the Lovat Scouts.
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